Gallium vs. Mercury

What's the Difference?

Gallium and Mercury are both metallic elements that share some similarities but also have distinct differences. Both elements are known for their low melting points, with gallium melting at around 30 degrees Celsius and mercury at -39 degrees Celsius. However, mercury has a much lower boiling point compared to gallium. Another difference lies in their physical properties, as gallium is a solid at room temperature while mercury is a liquid. Additionally, gallium is less toxic than mercury, making it a safer alternative for certain applications. Overall, while both elements exhibit unique characteristics, gallium is often considered a more versatile and less hazardous option compared to mercury.


Atomic Number3180
Atomic Mass69.723 u200.59 u
Electron Configuration[Ar] 3d10 4s2 4p1[Xe] 4f14 5d10 6s2
Melting Point29.76°C-38.83°C
Boiling Point2204°C356.73°C
Density5.91 g/cm³13.534 g/cm³
UsesSemiconductor, alloys, LEDsThermometers, barometers, fluorescent lamps

Further Detail


Gallium and mercury are two fascinating elements that share some similarities but also possess distinct characteristics. In this article, we will delve into the attributes of gallium and mercury, exploring their physical properties, chemical behavior, applications, and potential hazards. By understanding the unique features of these elements, we can gain a deeper appreciation for their significance in various fields of science and industry.

Physical Properties

Gallium is a soft, silvery-white metal that is solid at room temperature but melts at a low temperature of approximately 29.8 degrees Celsius (85.6 degrees Fahrenheit). It has a relatively low density of 5.91 grams per cubic centimeter and a low boiling point of 2,204 degrees Celsius (4,000 degrees Fahrenheit). In contrast, mercury is a dense, silvery-white liquid at room temperature with a density of 13.5 grams per cubic centimeter. It has a significantly higher boiling point of 356.7 degrees Celsius (674 degrees Fahrenheit) and freezes at a low temperature of -38.83 degrees Celsius (-37.89 degrees Fahrenheit).

Chemical Behavior

Both gallium and mercury are transition metals, but they exhibit different chemical behaviors. Gallium is relatively unreactive with air and water due to the formation of a thin oxide layer on its surface, which protects it from further oxidation. However, it can react with strong acids and alkalis. Mercury, on the other hand, is highly reactive and readily forms amalgams with other metals. It can dissolve many metals, including gold and silver, to form alloys known as amalgams. Mercury also reacts with halogens, such as chlorine and bromine, to form various compounds.


Gallium finds applications in various fields, including electronics, semiconductors, and medicine. Due to its low melting point, gallium is used in thermometers and as a component in low-temperature alloys. It is also utilized in the production of gallium arsenide, a semiconductor material used in electronic devices like solar cells, LEDs, and microwave circuits. Additionally, gallium-based compounds are employed in medical imaging and cancer treatment.

Mercury has a wide range of applications, although its use has significantly decreased due to its toxicity. Historically, it was used in thermometers, barometers, and fluorescent lamps. It was also utilized in dental amalgams and as a catalyst in various chemical reactions. However, due to environmental concerns, the use of mercury has been restricted or banned in many countries. Nowadays, its primary application lies in small-scale industrial processes and scientific research.

Potential Hazards

Gallium is generally considered to be non-toxic and poses minimal risks to human health. It is not known to accumulate in the body and is excreted through normal bodily functions. However, like any metal, gallium dust or fumes can be harmful if inhaled or ingested in large quantities. It is important to handle gallium with care and follow proper safety precautions to avoid any potential hazards.

Mercury, on the other hand, is highly toxic and poses significant risks to both human health and the environment. Exposure to mercury vapor or ingestion of mercury compounds can lead to severe neurological and developmental disorders. It can bioaccumulate in the food chain, leading to contamination of fish and other aquatic organisms. Due to its toxicity, strict regulations and guidelines are in place to minimize mercury exposure and ensure its safe handling and disposal.


In conclusion, gallium and mercury are two distinct elements with unique properties and characteristics. Gallium is a low-melting-point metal with various applications in electronics, semiconductors, and medicine. It is relatively unreactive and poses minimal risks to human health. On the other hand, mercury is a dense liquid with a high boiling point, historically used in thermometers, lamps, and dental amalgams. However, due to its toxicity, its use has been significantly reduced. Understanding the attributes of these elements allows us to appreciate their significance in different fields while also highlighting the importance of responsible handling and disposal to minimize any potential risks.

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